Education event

Rural Health Care Symposium
Key Steps for Sustainability

Register now
February 22 – 24, 2017
Hyatt Regency Sacramento, Sacramento, CA


Success does not happen by chance. True success is achieved through thoughtful planning, practiced execution and sustained focus on strategic goals. Attaining operational success can work that way, too. By taking it step by step, we can create sustainable hospitals that our communities need and deserve.

This two-day, executive-level program will provide you with the innovative strategies, insights and tools to set your hospital on the path to sustainability. Highlights include:

  • AHA leadership discusses the new administration, potential challenges and opportunities, and advocacy plans going forward
  • CMS’ Region IX chief medical officer outlines the agency’s policy priorities specifically related to rural health care, access issues and health equity
  • Special two-part session provides key strategies to improve and sustain rural financial performance
  • Rural CEOs share successes, challenges and implications for rural hospitals under a new administration, plus
  • Two back-to-back preconference workshops for critical access hospitals: strategies to improve rural health care operations and how to use data to improve financial and operational performance.

Make plans today to attend and don’t forget to invite your trustees to this year’s event.

Critical Access Hospital Scholarships

Do you work for a critical access hospital? If so, tuition funding is available through the CAH Flex Grant. Check the CAH Scholarships tab for more information.

Who Should Attend?

Chief executive officers, administrators, chief operating officers, chief financial officers, nurse leaders and trustees of rural hospitals would all benefit.


Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Critical Access Hospital Workshops
Two back-to-back sessions are offered. CAH tuition scholarships are available for the workshops and the symposium. Contact Peggy Wheeler for scholarship information at or (916) 552-7689.

1:00 – 4:00 pm
Using Data to Drive Financial, Operational and Performance Improvement

Jane Jerzak, RN, CPA, Partner, and Kelly Arduino, MA, MBA, Partner, Wipfli, LLP
Big data can drive big changes in small hospitals. This session will provide a framework for how to analyze claims and financial and clinical data to assess service line profitability, and will explain how data can be used to support performance improvement efforts. Attendees will come away with a clear understanding of how big data can inform and support leadership decision making.

4:00 – 5:00 pm
Improving Rural Health Clinic Operations

John Pfeiffer, Partner, Wipfli LLP/HFS Consultants; and Katie Jo Raebel, CPA, Senior Manager, Wipfli, LLP
This one-hour workshop will analyze common issues with rural health clinic operations from strategic, financial, revenue cycle and compliance perspectives. CAH administrative and financial leaders will take home strategies and steps to optimize rural health clinic operations.

5:00 – 6:30 pm
Welcome Reception
Downtown and Vine
(Exit Hyatt North entrance to 1200 K Street Mall)

Thursday, February 23, 2017

7:30 – 8:15 am
California Critical Access Hospital Network Breakfast Meeting

CCHAN members will be updated on network activities and programs for the coming year. Please RSVP with Peggy Wheeler at

9:00 – 9:30 am
Opening and Welcome

C. Duane Dauner, President/CEO, and Peggy Broussard Wheeler, Vice President, Rural Healthcare and Governance, California Hospital Association

9:30 – 10:30 am   Keynote Session
Predicting Financial Distress in Rural Hospitals
George Pink, PhD, Deputy Director, North Carolina Rural Health Research and Public Analysis Center
If you know where you are headed you can make informed decisions about your future. The financial distress prediction model was developed to help rural hospital CEOs identify risk factors and predict future financial distress. Using a scientific approach, the model’s creators evaluated historical and financial data, along with other factors, of 2,300 US rural hospitals to generate four groups, with low to high financial distress potential. This session will review the findings from assessment of US rural hospitals and discuss facility and geographic patterns that point to financial distress.

11:00 am – 12:15 pm   General Session   
CMS Region IX Update and Priorities for 2017

Ashby Wolfe, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Region IX, Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
CMS’ chief medical officer for Region IX will share insights on their direction for the coming year, including current CMS policy priorities specifically related to rural health care, access issues and health equity. The session also includes tabletop discussion and information sharing to help inform CMS leadership. Plan for active participation and engagement with your peers and CMS leadership.

12:15 – 1:00 pm   Hosted Luncheon

1:30 – 2:30 pm General Session
Reliability in Health Care — Why Us? Why Now?

Julie Morath, President/CEO, Hospital Quality Institute; and Calvin Knight, President/CEO, John Muir Health
Reliability — the same result, each and every time and under trying conditions. Applied to the complexity of health care, some will say this is a reach, but high reliability practitioners will assure you it is doable within any size hospital or system. This session will introduce you to the principles of high reliability, and explain how and why you should be applying these to your operations. A hospital CEO will share insights on his journey to creating a highly reliable organization and what it takes to engage the entire workforce in the process. Learn about their progress to date and the benefits of achieving high reliability. 

2:30 – 3:30 pm General Session
Key Steps to Sustainability, Part 1: Why Now?

Eric Shell, Principal, Stroudwater
The health care market is changing and you should be prepared to change with it. By 2024, the health care payment system will be flipped — from volume to value. In the first of a two-part intensive session, you will hear the background and analysis that will make the case for why you should act now to secure future success. Gain an understanding of the regulatory and market forces that are changing health care to a consumer-driven model and learn why and how health care delivery models must change alongside new payment structures.

4:00 – 5:00 pm General Session
Key Steps to Sustainability, Part 2: Move Now

Eric Shell, Principal, Stroudwater
You can’t just think differently or operate better than last year – organizational strategies must change. Part two leads with the presentation of a transitional framework that matches operational tactics with the strategic imperatives of our changing payment system. Using the strategic framework, hospitals will be able to assess their own capabilities to ensure optimal success. Alignment with partners and physicians will be critical to success, especially in small markets. This session will send you home with actionable steps to take now to prepare.

5:00 – 6:30 pm

Catch up with colleagues or exchange ideas about the day’s sessions while enjoying wine and hors d’oeuvres.

Friday, February 24, 2017

8:00 – 9:00 am Continental Breakfast
Rural Health Clinic Update

Gail Nickerson, Director, Rural Health Services, Adventist Health and founder of the California Association of Rural Health Clinics
Leadership of the Rural Health Care Clinic Association will provide a recap of policy and legislative highlights from 2016 and report on key issues impacting rural health care clinics for the year ahead.

9:00 – 10:15 am General Session
Annual CEO Roundtable 

Moderator Steve Rousso, Partner, Wipfli LLP/HFS Consultants; Wende Cappetta, Vice President, Santa Ynez Valley Cottage Hospital; Andrew Jahn, President/CEO, Sonora Regional Medical Center; and Carlos Priestley, Hospital Administrator, Sutter Coast Hospital
Join your peers for a candid discussion of rural health care policy, operation and practice. This year’s topics include potential ACA changes; workforce challenges, including physician employment strategies; and innovative collaborations. Bring your questions for this interactive session.

10:45 am – 12:00 pm Closing Session
Rural Crystal Ball — What to Expect for 2017

John Supplitt, Senior Director, Section for Small or Rural Hospitals, American Hospital Association
How the next year plays out is anyone’s guess — or is it? Listen to a national rural health policy expert forecast the direction of rural health policy under a new administration and Congress. Attendees will learn about AHA’s advocacy efforts for rural hospitals and their plans to achieve five key priorities for hospitals: reduce regulatory burden, enhance affordability and value, promote quality and patient safety, ensure access to care and coverage, and continue to advance health system transformation and innovation. An update on the Rural Health Care Task Force will also be provided.

CAH Scholarships

Critical Access Hospital tuition scholarships are available through the CAH Flex Grant for the preconference workshops and the symposium. Some limitations apply. For more information, contact Peggy Broussard Wheeler at (916) 552-7689 or



Members* $595
Nonmembers** $795 (limitations apply, see below)

Tuition includes reception, luncheon and CEs.

Critical Access Hospital Tuition Scholarships
CAH tuition scholarships are available for the workshops and the symposium. See the CAH Scholarship tab for more information.

*Members are CHA member hospitals, CHA associate members and government agencies. **Nonmembers are limited to non-hospital health care providers, clinics, post-acute facilities, and consultants, insurance companies, law firms and other entities that serve hospitals. Education programs and publications are a membership benefit and are not available to eligible nonmember California hospitals.

Continuing Education

Full attendance at the educational session is a prerequisite for receiving professional continuing education credit. Attendees must sign in at the symposium and, when required, include professional license number. Certificates of attendance will be emailed.

Health Care Executives — CHA is authorized to award up to 4 CAH workshop hours and 9 symposium hours of pre-approved ACHE Qualified Education credit for this program toward advancement, or recertification, in the American College of Healthcare Executives. Participants in this program who wish to have the continuing education hours applied toward ACHE Qualified Education credit must self-report their participation. To self-report, participants must log into their MyACHE account and select ACHE Qualified Education Credit.

Nursing — Provider approved by the California Board of Registered Nursing, CEP 11924, for 4.8 CAH workshop contact hours and 10.8 symposium contact hours.

Cancellation Policy

A $75 non-refundable processing fee will be retained for each cancellation received in writing by February 15. No refunds will be made after this date. Substitutions are encouraged. Cancellation and substitution notifications may be emailed to In the unlikely event the program is cancelled, CHA will fully refund paid participants within 30 days.

Americans with Disabilities Act

If you require special accommodations pursuant to the Americans with Disabilities Act, contact the CHA Education Department at (916) 552-7637.


CHA will photograph this event. If you prefer not to be photographed, please email CHA at


Hyatt Regency Sacramento
1209 L Street
Sacramento, CA 95814
(888) 421-1442 (reservations)
(916) 443-1234

The Hyatt Regency Sacramento is the host hotel and site of this year’s event. Located in the heart of downtown Sacramento and directly across the street from the State Capitol, the Hyatt is close to numerous dining options, shopping and parks. Discount deadline has passed, but rooms may still be available. For reservations call (888) 421-1442 and mention “California Hospital Association.”


Do you have a product or service of interest to rural hospitals? This annual conference is an opportunity to reach California rural hospital executives all in one place.

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